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Saturnia pavonia
find out more... Emperor larva early moult Copyright: Robert Smith

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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more

Thu 29th December 2011 00:05 by Michael Daniels
Not a critical problem - as yet!
I follow your argument Mary, also appreciate that steps should be taken to safeguard domestic animals from marauding predators.  Foxes are known villains and my friend fully appreciates he should have rounded up his fowls, but he's a believer in full free range and that is too idealistic and he paid the price.  Otters of course are rather a different proposition, many areas have not seen the sight of this animal for many a year.  You can cover a small pond with netting, always an unsightly addition to an ornamental feature, to frustrate fishing herons.  But, I would suspect that an otter would be a very deter- mined thief and how would you stop him emptying a sizeable pond?  If he or she finds a mate, and starts to breed, many in conservation would express delight and understandably. I see in Wikipedia our European species Lutra lutra will or should consume 15% of its body- weight a day, quite an appetite and if there are pups to feed, would represent an appreciable toll even on a fair size body of water.
Wed 28th December 2011 21:01 by Peter Pearson
Common Ivy, Hedera helix
Hedera helix Copyright: Peter Pearson

There seems to be a huge amount of ivy berries this year. These were photgraphed on the hedge at Mistley Park Place

Wed 28th December 2011 20:11 by Peter Pearson
Late ladybirds
Late 7-Spot Ladybirds Copyright: Peter Pearson

The attached photograph was taken in New Rd, Mistley, today, 28.12.2011. About 30 were noted on the boundary fence to Misley Place Park, in weak afternoon sunshine. It seems very late in the year for them to be about.

Sat 24th December 2011 22:18 by Mary Smith
Otters, foxes: destructive animals?
Although I understand entirely what Michael Daniels is saying, I am sure there are answers to prevent this destruction.  I am told that Koi Carp are valuable fish and they can live up to about 200 years, so certainly growing very large. Presumably they are big enough to be safe from Herons and Egrets. But many people know that Otters are increasing, so why was no protective netting set up and other precautions not taken? Similarly with the chickens: even free range hens need to be protected from foxes which are well known to enjoy destroying chickens. When the owner left his house, why did he not bother to enclose the hens before he left?
Wed 21st December 2011 00:05 by Michael Daniels
Success for conservation, or is it?
I suspect that most EFC people dedicated to preserving our flora and fauna, will welcome the news that the otter is successfully re-establishing itself in habitats it once occupied across the country before various factors lead to its serious decline. 

But is that news all good I wonder.

Near us in Holland-on-Sea we have a watercourse, its known as Holland Brook and it is just that, nothing approaching what could be described as a river.  Nevertheless, it does contain a reasonable head of fish, the usual species and anglers appear to find it worthy of their attention.  Just been reported that an otter has made its appearance.  We all understand that the otter is a very efficient predator, particularly feasting on fish, crustacea and mollusca. I just wonder just how long it will take this mammal to clear out this local faunal population.  Also I hear another piece of disturbing news that someone has lost their Koy Carp from their garden pond....'Tarka' the suspected raider and hardly surprising if this intelligent animal is the culprit.

After the recent meeting at the Wat Tyler Centre, journeying back to Tendring on the A12, we got into a tail back that we understand was due to an accident.  Diverted through Kelvedon and Coggeshall, this seriously delayed us getting back to Thorpe where David our driver resides.  He keeps chickens and after our departure for Clacton, he soon became aware of commotion in his garden.  It was quickly apparent what had occurred, Mr. Fox had got amongst his fowls and managed to kill fifteen of his hens, all just coming into lay.  Home on time he would have been able secure his free range birds for the night, but ill luck for him rather spoilt his pleasure, and ours too when informed, of that successful special club event.

Not surprising the fox has gained a very bad reputation amongst farmers and poultry-keepers. My concern is that not too far in the furture the otter will all attract similar bad feelings.  That's where conservation can produce side effects that could hardly be universally applauded.

Mon 19th December 2011 13:04 by Sue Grayston
Thanks Peter. I've bookmarked the page as it looks a useful site.
Sun 18th December 2011 16:04 by Peter Harvey
This looks like the harvestman Mitopus morio, a widespread species (see our own species account and the national map at link This (like quite a few other harvestmen) is quite variable in pattern, depth of colour and markings.
Sat 17th December 2011 18:57 by Sue Grayston
Unknown specimen
Hi all,

I wonder if anyone can help me with this specimen. I think it may be a harvestman but I'm not sure. I found it on the side of Fleetwith Pike in the Lake district when I was looking at rocks. Sorry the photo isn't in focus, it wouldn't keep still!

Sue GraystonUnknown harvestman Copyright: Sue Grayston



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